Miami Heat guard Kyle Lowry is preaching patience with this season’s team after a slow start.
The Heat are just 7-8 on the season and hold the No. 10 spot in the Eastern Conference. There is still a ton of basketball to be played, but it’s a step back from when Miami was first in the Eastern Conference last season.
“Just figuring it out,” Lowry said. “One thing about it is it’s a marathon and not a sprint.
“Early in the year we were trying to figure out our team. Right now, unfortunately, we’ve got injuries, so that forces everyone to step up a little bit more.”
The Heat take on the Washington Wizards on Friday night, and they have a bunch of key players on the injury report.
Guards Victor Oladipo and Tyler Herro are listed as out for this game, along with big man Omer Yurtseven, who recently had surgery on his left ankle. The Heat also have listed Bam Adebayo, Caleb Martin and Dewayne Dedmon as questionable for Friday’s contest.
The team also ruled out star Jimmy Butler for Friday’s game with a knee injury.
Spoelstra says Butler out tonight due to knee soreness.
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) November 18, 2022
It’s not an ideal scenario for Miami. The injuries have not only made it harder for the team to win games, but they also haven’t allowed for the Heat to jell with a new starting lineup now that P.J. Tucker is no longer with the team.
“I think we’re figuring some things out,” Lowry, 36, said. “If you’re concerned about your individual stats and your game right now, you shouldn’t be. It’ll come.”
Lowry, the team’s starting point guard, is averaging 13.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game while shooting 41.5 percent from the field and 36.2 percent from beyond the arc. He’s going to be leaned on heavily with so many other players out for the Heat.
“As a veteran player, my thing is everyone comes in from the summertime and you’ve got to get back comfortable with each other as a group,” he said. “And we’ve got to figure out different lineups, different teams. But I think we’re coming together.”
When everyone has been healthy, the Heat have used Herro, Martin, Lowry, Butler and Adebayo in the starting lineup.
Lowry explained that it takes time for the team to come together, especially with Adebayo and Herro emerging as even bigger players on offense.
“I think it’s different now because we have a different starting unit,” he said of an alignment that only injuries have altered. “Tyler is emerging and coming along, and Bam is becoming more of a factor, and Caleb is our starting guy now [at power forward in place of departed P.J. Tucker]. So it’s just different, trying to figure out who, what, where, how and when.
“So that’s the thing that takes time. That’s something we have to deal with. But I think we’ve found a great groove. It’ll be different when Tyler gets back but we understand what we’re doing with Tyler and Bam and everybody. We’re all on the same page.”
The Heat have a lot of competition in the Eastern Conference this season, as the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics are still expected to push for the top spot. Not only that, but the improved Cleveland Cavaliers have shown they are ready to compete early on in the 2022-23 season.
Miami isn’t the only team dealing with players out of the lineup in the East. The Philadelphia 76ers are currently without guard James Harden due to a foot injury, and the Brooklyn Nets haven’t had their suspended guard Kyrie Irving for several games this season.
Lowry knows that other teams in the East are going to be good, but the Heat have to focus on themselves this early in the season.
“Milwaukee and Boston are really good and everybody else is still good but they’re trying to figure it out,” he said. “But that’s our league in general. … That’s the great parity of our league and how it’s set up now.
“A lot of guys, a lot of teams are all kind of equal. And like I said, it’s also  games in. When you get to 50 games you start to say ‘OK, this is what it is.’”
Hopefully when Miami reaches the 50-game mark it is back amongst the top teams in the conference.